On Dec. 3 of last year, the United States government released an intelligence report stating that Iran was not in fact building a nuclear bomb. This reversed a 2005 conclusion, which had been the basis for the president’s repeated warnings to the nation that World War III might be just around the corner.
Intelligence reports come and go; we can’t be certain that this one is any more accurate than the one from 2005, or any others to come. It does seem as if the sourcing for this assessment was superior to what U.S. intelligence had to work with before. But that’s not the point. The question we really need to consider is: why would a nuclear-armed Iran be so dangerous that America would have to go to war?
If at some future time Iran has one, or two, or 20 nuclear bombs, what is that to us, with our arsenal of thousands upon thousands of warheads? They’re not going to drop the big one on New York, in return for which we would wipe the Iranian state and the Persian race off the planet. For the same reason, they aren’t going to pass a nuke on to terrorists who want to strike the U.S. Despite the perfervid formulations of various neocons and other disreputable persons, the mullahs in Tehran are not seeking martyrdom for their country.
Yet Mr. Bush has said (in an Oct. 17,2007 press conference), “If you’re interested in preventing World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them [Iran] from hav- ing the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”
Now, after seven years, it’s all too clear that Bush is a fool when it comes to international politics. He simply never fails to say, do, or (so it would appear) think the wrong thing. Whether he’s launching a war against Saddam Hussein, or being duped by Vladimir Putin, or writing love notes to North Korean dictator Kim Jong II (his latest brainwave, and one made all the more remarkable by the fact that Kim actually has the bomb, and has lied to us repeatedly about his weapons programs), he just never gets it right. So I suppose it’s only natural that he thinks Iran can cause World War III.
Another voice, and one with a far cleverer mind behind it, has sounded a similar note. Richard Perle, a founding father of the neocons and the Mephistophelean figure who helped inspire Bush’s war in Iraq, has said that in dealing with nations like Iran, America faces the choice of “victory or holocaust.” His use of the latter word, so highly charged, reveals his inner motivation. The idea that a bunch of ragtag states in the Islamic world has the potential to annihilate the American people is ludicrous. Perle’s thinking, and that of his fellow neocons, clearly is focused on Israel. It would be better aJl around if they had the guts to just come out and say so. But they don’t, for the simple reason that they are afraid the American people will never willingly send their sons and daughters to die for Israel. And they’re probably right.